The New Normal: Dissecting the Male Ideal

TEXT: Alexander Sauve 

Similar to the female standards of beauty, the male ideal is nearly impossible to achieve and maintain. It’s a standard that continually evolves and is driven by the media and entertainment industry. With Pride month well underway, Novella takes a look at the emerging new standards of male beauty and we find that one size does not necessarily fit all.

1960s: Liberated and Outrageously Sexy

The 1960s was a decade of significant cultural and political upheaval. Before the gay liberation movement, it was absolutely imperative to “pass” as heterosexual. After the Stonewall Riots of 1969, coming out became an act of defiance against the anti-gay establishment. Men in greater numbers would break free from the traditional clean-shaven, perfectly quaffed and overly conservative mold of the ’50s. By the early 1970s, gay men found inspiration in uber-masculine male stereotypes — the lumberjack, the cowboy, the biker, and the construction worker would become the epitome of the masculine ideal.

1970s: A decade of Decadence

In the era of Studio 54 and Bowie and Warhol, a period of decadence and self-expression rolled in. Although the uber-masculine ideal was in full swing, many gay men would begin to defy old-school gender binaries by experimenting with makeup, tight clothes, and longer hairstyles. The look was androgynous, young, and free-spirited. The underground Drag Ball culture of New York was gaining popularity and would eventually become synonymous with the worldwide LGBT community.

1980s: The Athletic Ideal

As the fitness models exercised, sweated, and posed in various states of undress in Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 smash hit Physical, the athletic male ideal was born. Men were muscular, athletic, and tanned to a leathery golden crust. Essentially the “All-American Look” of the 1980s fitness craze would have a tremendous influence on male beauty, fashion, and grooming ideals. A body that is fit, healthy, and lean remains the most sought after body type for both men and women alike.

1990s: The Era of the Supermodel

Arguably the last generation of the true supermodel-models Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss was the envy of every young woman and gay man in the 1990s. But a crop of top male models — Marcus Schenkenberg, Mark Vanderloo, and Tyson Beckford — would set the standard of male beauty in the era of perfection. With their chiseled features and tall and well-defined physiques, these guys were the new epitome of the masculine ideal.

Early 2000’s: The Metrosexual Man

By the early 2000s, we saw an increase of confident and stylish men taking greater pride in their appearance. In this era, men enjoyed high-quality grooming products, designer threads, and perfectly styled hair. The metrosexual is usually found in urban jungles where grooming and shopping is easy. Most often heterosexual, these stylish and well-groomed men put some of their gay counterparts to shame.

2010: The Casual Hipster

In many ways, the hipster would set a new standard for male grooming and style. From full and thick beards to plaid shirts and oversized frames, their casual and uber-sexy style is one of the most sought after styles for millennials. Noted to be somewhat overly trendy, the hipster loves all things organic, distinctive, and individual. Unfortunately, the individuality thing only goes so far, since the term ‘hipster’ goes as far back as the 1940s and saw an reemergence with a different meaning in the 1990s.

Today: The Bearded Beauty

Today it’s all about lumberjack. The new male archetype is bearded, uber-masculine, and is good with an axe (probably not really though). An ode to the lumbersexual and anti-establishment of the 1960s and 70s, beards give a rugged and enigmatic appearance to even the prettiest of male faces. Think Ryan Reynolds in The Amityville Horror (2005), without the crazy.

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Shop All Weekend: Casual Tailoring


I feel like a broken record for constantly repeating this phrase in many of my posts, but there is no denying that menswear has strayed to a far more casual direction the past half decade. Sneakers and sportswear, have made their mark on how men dress themselves on a day to day basis.

The rise of casual men’s attire has even trickled down to the workplace dress code. These days, it is not uncommon to see men in jeans, hoodies and sneakers, walking into the office. With more and more men leaning towards comfort and casual, you would assume that the world of tailoring is on a steady decline.

While it’s true that less men are wearing the finer dandier things in men’s fashion, that doesn’t mean it’s extinct. The foundation of menswear will always be tailoring, there is no question about it. So while everyone is zigging towards being more casual, it is sometimes fun to switch things up a bit, and zag the opposite direction.

Opting for a casual blazer and or sport coat just cleans you right up so here are four easy to wear  casual tailoring options for this spring/summer.

Harris Wharf  Sartorial Jacket Waffle Navy


When it comes to casual tailoring the key word is “soft.” Soft in tailoring essentially means the garment is stripped of any excess lining and shoulder pads, and you’re left with an easy wearing garment that does not look suity whatsoever. This Harris Wharf Blazer is a great starting point if you’re looking for an easy, effortless, casual blazer that you can just put on and go. The blazer features a waffle knit cotton, slim notch lapel, two button closure, and double patch pockets.

Oliver Spencer Theobald Jacket


We are only a few months away from t-shirt and shorts weather but let’s be real, as much as we like to be comfortable in the summer heat, the summer uniform sometimes simply can’t be worn 24/7. When you need to step your sartorial game up for those summer nights, the Oliver Spencer Theobald Jacket is a great option. The jacket is made from a cotton linen blend, unlined, patch pockets,  and a loop button closure. This jacket was designed to be tailored,  yet comfortable, so this is the one to wear with either a plain t-shirt or polo.

Suitsupply Copenhagen Blazer


Suitsupply has changed the tailoring game with their affordable prices and high quality suits and blazers. The Copenhagen Blazer is a staple in their collection as a casual easy piece, that can simply be dressed up or down. The blazer is unconstructed, made from a blend of cotton and linen, soft pleated shoulders, and three patch pockets.

wings + horns Washed Linen Utility Blazer


For those that follow the menswear scene closely, you must know that wings + horns has become a go to for minimalist well made clothing. The made in Canada brand has a signature summer blazer that just hits all the right style notes for those looking for something that is versatile, and easy to wear. The Washed Linen Utility Blazer is made from triple washed Japanese linen, and features reinforced welt pockets, hidden placket, and hidden snap cuff closures.

Novella Magazine’s Top 5 Picks

Photos: Shayne Gray Photography


TOM Fall/Winter 2016

Bringing Toronto men’s fashion to the fore is what initially drove Toronto Men’s Fashion Week to build upon a platform for designers to showcase the latest in men’s wear. Whether it be formal, street, or casual, Toronto Men’s Fashion Week has transcended from local Toronto talent, to national creativity drawing from all parts of the country to come together and share their designs for the dapper male.

This past Autumn/Winter 2016 season, TOM has brought together another incredible group of designers to flaunt their latest collection to fashion goers. Among the 18 up and coming, and established, designers, Novella Magazine was transfixed on five innovative brands that stood out in cut, colour, and overall style.

Bringing their own spin on streetwear, with the use of leather and fur, HIP and BONE crosses the two styles that men love to channel when wanting to make a statement; street and formal wear. Crossing the two styles with the use of fur on leather jackets and layering the statement piece with hip length crewneck sweaters, HIP and BONE fuse their take on the modern day gent.

Making waves with bringing the past to the present, Finezza sure wants to remind the men’s fashion world of their journey through time. The Montréal native brand brings back ascots, plaid suits, and turtle neck sweaters to exude a 1950’s French Riviera aura. Captured by the use of cuts with their suits, and bold statements with colour, Novella is on board for what Finezza brings from there time capsule collections.

Another streetwear brand that caught our eye was Joao Paulo Guedes. Bringing to mind a modern twist on oriental flare, with the use of geometric textiles, wide belts accompanying sleeveless tanks and shiny fabrics mimicking silk, the street brand brought their own vision of what men’s style should be to the fore. And with their creative take on the collection, the crowd, and Novella, were in no qualms at all.

Taking their first walk on the TOM runways, Hendrixroe brought the sophistication and edge of the 1970’s. Layers were the main theme of the collection as the addition of scarves and vests layered over jackets really kept the Autumn/Winter season into play. The rich colours of purple and green accented the hues of brown and grey as the capes and coats floated down the runway.

And last CAFFERY VAN HORNE. This men’s wear line showed gents how layering should be done for the upcoming winter season. Their take on men wearing capes and scarves draped over the shoulder, with the accompaniment of wool blazers and dark hued turtle neck sweaters spoke old Hollywood glam. Adding drama to the collection with black leather gloves and aviator style sunglasses, exudes a sense of sophistication and prestige at first glance.

Photo: Shayne Gray Photography



Street Style by Chris Smart – TOM* FW2016


Last week London Fashion Week said ‘goodbye’ till next season and Milan took the baton as it was stipulated in the fashion week calendar. The whole fashion industry was aware of the big shows closing the doors in the British capital and also who was about to open the Italian fashion event of the year.

In Canada we were definitely excited to see the most beautiful, sensitive, and breathtakingly crafted Alexander McQueen collection that Sarah Burton presented at LFW before going off on maternity leave to have her third baby; and dreamed with the most modern version of romanticism that Consuelo Castiglioni captured in her Fall 2016 collection for Marni. However, last week in Canada our eyes were on something else as the fourth edition of the Toronto Men’s Fashion Week was taking place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 444 Yonge Street.

We aren’t only proud of the fact that TOM* was the eighth men’s fashion week in the world, but mainly because we witness how the Canadian fashion genes are slowly getting stronger and gaining more momentum internationally. Yes, we do are proud and thankful to our local designers, make up artists, models, photographers, PR firms, editors, publications, etc., because it’s only because of them that these initiatives are possible. They are a group of talented hard-worker people who we are lucky to get to work with and share our roots.

During these three intense yet exciting days, both the inside and outside of College Park building were ready to welcome all the people attending TOM*. With the rainy and slushy weather it seemed almost like a miracle to even spot some fashionistas and fashionistos arriving to the shows. However, our very own street style warrior and talented photographer Chris Smart took enough courage to wait outside for the perfect shot in order to keep giving visibility to the best Canadian style on the streets.

This season, more than ever, the street stylers at TOM* embraced that relaxed and confident feeling that Candians are finally internalizing within the fashion industry. No outrageous looks, nor trying-so-hard outfits. Instead, the dress code for the attendees was way more relaxed and effortless: backpacks, sneakers, flat shoes, denim and a discrete colour palette.










If you don’t want to miss the best street style from Toronto and NYC follow Chris Smart on Instagram at @csmartfx !